No Tolerance after a Loss


I share this post as an observation to help you help others with grief and loss.

Have you ever looked at, listened to or lived with someone after a close relationship ended, even by death?  One theme that is common among many grieving individuals is a lack of tolerance for many things.  Collectively the individuals may not realize this, but individually they express the same sentiments.

I have heard comments such as; “My child died and my friend wants me to go pick out paint colours”. The last thing this person wants to do is to choose anything, nor does this person want to be rude to a friend.

Standing in line or waiting patiently for anything is not top of the list when grief is an active part of life.  Listening to mundane conversations takes a lot of energy; which many grieving people have little of; therefore, they may seem less tolerant and less considerate of others.

Often after a loss the individual is least able to cope, focus and sometimes remember which way is up. Having said this, remember that being supportive might require patience and extra understanding on your part if you are helping someone else.

This is a potential teachable moment and a way to normalize grief reactions.

No tolerance might appear as avoidance, short answers, and evasive responses.  Adding one more dilemma to the already overloaded individual may be the last straw, which may lead to a complete melt down of emotions.

The cup is full and because of this, the individual may not realize they have no tolerance at this moment, but may know something is different about how they react to the world around them.  On the other hand, the individual may know exactly what they are doing and saying.

The last thing the individual needs at this time is confrontation, which is probably why many individuals want to or actually do stay away from family and friends for some period of time.  Often, they have heard comments about getting better or to get over the loss faster. Perhaps with time and understanding life may adjust to how it is going to be for the grieving individual.

Depending on the loss situation, there is a chance that the grieving individual will be forever changed in some way from the person they were before the loss.

This “lack of tolerance” is not there all of the time.  Suggesting staying connected with family and friends and talking about the process they are experiencing may be a way for everyone concerned to understand each other.

All my best,

Barbara Gillett Saunders


How tolerant are you with those around you?